I haven’t been that humiliated since I farted in the middle of a very quiet yoga class.
Language is the most immediate gauge of intelligence. Articulate, well-spoken people are quickly marked as boasting a robust cerebral aptitude. Conversely, those with an anemic command of the spoken word are viewed as weaker between the ears, regardless of their true mental prowess.
Case in point: carpe diem (Latin for ‘seize the day’) and YOLO (‘you only live once’) mean essentially the same thing, but even Einstein couldn’t pull off the latter without looking like a twerp:
An avid reader, I’ve long admired prodigious vocabularies and golden tongues in others, and yearn for the same in myself. I dream of the day when 99% of my sentences are indecipherable to the common man.
Or, rather: “I envisage the diurnal course when the preponderance of my colloquy are esoteric to the plebeian hordes.”
Sexy, right? The more cryptic you are, the more attractive you are.
But lest I grow pompous because I know the meaning of ‘lassitude’ and ‘laconic’, life decided to sock it to me where it hurt the most. Words, those beautiful words I love so, are proving to be my downfall.
Perhaps it was being at my old place of employment, Safeway, that threw me off kilter. Maybe the ghosts of work shifts past spooked me. It’s also plausible that standing in a pharmacy line of a conventional grocery store with nothing but processed foods in sight flummoxed the health freak in me.
Regardless, there I was, standing in line at the Safeway pharmacy, waiting to pick up my decidedly non-organic drugs. It’s a charmingly simple process, really. You walk up, state confidently, “I am here to pick up a prescription for (insert your name),” and then you’re done. All you have to do after that is listen to the pharmacist recite the extensive list of terrifying and deadly side effects, most of which are worse than your actual malady.
So up walks Heidi Wells, Vocab Snob, and confidently states,
“I am here to pick up a puhhhh… puhhh … puhhh… puh… puhhh puhhh…”
… I couldn’t say it.
I literally couldn’t get the word ‘prescription’ out. I stuttered and stammered, until a few sweaty and traumatic seconds later I decided to cut my losses and just hastily slurred over the word, ending defeatedly with an apologetic, yet clear “Heidi Wells.” If the pharmacist couldn’t understand the rest of my sentence, she could at least know which loser the drugs were for.
Verbal stumbling has emerged slowly over the last year for me, in conjunction with other health problems. Due to some cosmic inequality, if you’re a pop star, repetitious, stutter-like lyrics land you on the top 100 chart. For non-famous me, it landed me squarely with the YOLO crowd.
While I was writing this post, the stumble struck again, just to rub it in. This time, it was at a restaurant, where I was relishing a very grown-up lunch date with a former boss of mine. When it came time to order beverages, I cheerfully asked for a ‘peppermint pee’, instead of ‘peppermint tea’.
Ummmm … peppermint tea eventually becomes pee, so I was just thinking ahead??? I might need to take up sign language, as I apparently can’t go anywhere without embarrassing myself.
Underneath the flushed cheeks and embarrassment, I know there is a valuable lesson lurking here. When an outside invader wraps its grimy fingers around something you dearly love, you can either thrash about with the invisible foe, or take a good, deep inhale of all the joys that you still have, and release with a laugh those you are called to relinquish. I earnestly hope my health issues retire soon, but if they don’t, I hope with equal earnestness that I can accept with grace the lot I have been given. Why not choose to be happy, because as they say: “YOLO!”
In the meantime – Safeway, could you please establish an online pharmacy? It would spare me a lot of embarrassment. Thuh thuh .. thuh .. thanks!